Thursday, October 13, 2016

Playing RPGs with Cards Instead of Dice

This week I came across a fascinating new twist to bring to your roleplaying game - use playing cards instead of dice. While I encourage you to check out the original article linked above, the basic idea is that you deal out a card array of 12 cards to be shared among the players as well as a hand of 5 cards that the GM keeps concealed in his hand. Then, any time that a roll is required from the players, they instead pick a card from the array in front of them and use that result instead. That player then draws a new card and adds it to the array.

However, the card that was just played isn't discarded. Instead, that player hands it to the GM, who adds it to his own hand of cards. Whenever the GM would normally roll a dice, he or she also picks a card in hand, plays it, and then discards it into the discard pile, where it will eventually be shuffled back in once the entire draw pile has been used up. The GM is also limited to only twelve cards in hand.

This obviously creates some interesting tension for the players. While they are free to use their highest cards to guarantee success, they are also giving the GM that same ability.

Now obviously you have to do some adjustments depending on the game system you're using, especially if you also include the face cards in the mix. For D&D or other games that resolve around a d20, the simplest solution (and the one advocated in the original post) is to use red cards for their face value (with aces counting as a one) and black cards as being worth ten plus their face value. The author also has the following rules for face cards:
  • King:  Succeed at cost.  You automatically succeed, but some complication, error, or unintended consequence is introduced by the GM.  After playing a King, do not give it to the GM.  Place it in the players' discard pile directly to be shuffled back in if .
  • Queen:  Failure, gain 1 treasure, placing the Queen in the score pile for the rest of the session.
  • Jack:  Failure, gain 1 experience, placing the Jack in the score pile for the rest of the session.
  • Joker:  Critical failure, gain 1 experience and 1 treasure.  The GM describes how your action went horribly wrong or caused additional foul consequences.  Place the Joker in the score pile for the rest of the session.
These treasures or experience are then tallied up at the end of the gaming session, giving the players some additional rewards for having played these cards. Alternatively, you could just use all face cards the same way as a King, or simply don't include the face cards at all.

I love the tactical strategies and considerations that this opens up for players and can't wait to try this out with my own gaming group. Thanks to Run A Game for such a great idea!

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